Flipping the Laboratory with Interactive Online Exercises

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

We will demonstrate how online instruction can deliver meaningful and engaging learning objects to "flip" the student laboratory similar to flipping the classroom.


Sacha is an Instructional Technologist for the Department of Biological Sciences at Idaho State University. She creates videos, animations, and interactive activities for online/distance learning students. Her research and instructional interests include self-directed and situated learning, learner motivation, adaptive instruction, virtual laboratory simulations, and best practices for 'flipping' the classroom/laboratory. She is passionate about creating authentic and meaningful online learning experiences for students.
Sue is a Clinical Associate Professor at Idaho State University in the Medical Laboratory Science program. She has been instrumental in adapting the curriculum to the distance learning and online formats, primarily for clinical chemistry and microbiology. Her primary focus has been on increasing student access to authentic laboratory activities delivered online. She has over 40 years of experience in the clinical laboratory and continues to work in the field, which allows her to draw from her experiences to create real-world activities for her students.

Extended Abstract

Online instruction allows us to increase student access while simultaneously decreasing costs for students and universities. We created interactive reusable learning objects (RLOs) that simulate a clinical laboratory environment and, in essence, "flip" the laboratory experience for students. Rather than require rural and distant students to travel to campus for hands-on labs, the RLOs were contextualized and delivered online using the university's learning management system (Moodle). Required laboratory supplies may be in short supply or so costly that the analysis can only be run once (if at all) and the hands-on laboratories do not always adequately reflect the clinical laboratory conditions. Consequently, we created interactive, online activities to provide students the opportunity to analyze results in a controlled environment. Furthermore, the scenario-based activities provide immediate feedback and create authentic learning experiences that promote deeper understanding of the laboratory processes and concepts. The activities afford students the ability to step-through simulated experiences as often and as many times as needed in order to internalize the necessary skills. These activities can be completed at home at students' convenience to prepare them ahead of time for their clinical rotations. Because this innovative approach can be capitalized on using simple presentation software with a quizzing tool available in virtually any learning management system, we will elicit audience feedback to help them envision how they could use the tools at their disposal to implement such an approach in their classrooms and with their content. We will discuss driving forces behind flipping the labs for a very intensive laboratory-based program. We will explain how we used elements from Michael Allen's context, challenge, activity, and feedback (CCAF) matrix to design RLOs that also meet M. David Merrill's e3-learning (pronounced e to the third power learning) because they are efficient, effective, and engaging. We believe these activities also advanced from e3-learning into e4-learning because of their ability to provide equitable lab experiences for all students in all locations including online students. We will demonstrate one RLO and discuss creation and implementation advantages and challenges. We will also explore future directions, such as gamification.